MDXXI Imperial Mexican Chocolate Stout, will be released early in May from Asheville's Twin Leaf Brewery. We spoke to Owner and Head Brewer, Tim Weber about his bold new release: the back story, the taste and the food to pair to pair alongside it.
"This was a beer that we did a small batch of when we first opened in March 2014. Back then we just called it the Mexican stout," explained Tim Weber, Owner and Head Brewer. "It was based off of an ancient Aztec chocolate drink which often contained chilis. For our one year anniversary we decided to bottle it, but needed a name. After a lot of discussion we decided to call it MDXXI (1521), the year the Aztec Empire feel to the Spanish. Per the bottle label..."
“1521, the year the Aztec empire fell to the Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes. Upon returning to Spain, Cortes brought with him cocoa beans surrendered by Aztec nobles, thus introducing traditional, bitter drinking chocolate to Europe. The luxury drink gained popularity as it evolved into the sweeter tasting hot chocolate we know today. This Imperial Mexican Chocolate Stout, brewed with cocoa nibs, cinnamon, and arbol chiles, boast a full body and subtle spice that pays respect to this ancient beverage.”
"This is a big and bold chocolate stout at its base. I use a lot of chocolate and biscuit malts with malted oats for a creamy mouthfeel. Post fermentation I add cocoa nibs, cinnamon, and arbol chilis for the heat. I prefer using arbol chilis because they don’t burn your throat like a jalapeno would. Instead it gives a slow build up of heat in the back of your mouth which I find more pleasant," says Weber. "Many people love how pronounced the chocolate and cinnamon is up front and often say they aren’t getting that much heat. 2 or 3 sips later they shockingly will say, “Oh no there it is! Yeah it is spicy!”. I really do love this beer and I think there is a reason customers are always begging me to brew it again.
THE FOOD TO PAIR
"When pairing beer with food you are always looking to achieve a combination that complements both the dish and the beer. Many times you may look to pair a food and a beer that have similar attributes, such as a really good ESB and BBQ. Other times you look to pair two things that are complete opposites," explained Weber. "But the most important thing is that you do not want to overwhelm the flavors of the food or the beer. This would be a tricky beer to pair with a meal because it is thick and extremely flavorful and that spice does add up. I think the best kind of food to pair it with would be desert. Perhaps a really good vanilla ice cream or gelato or raspberry pie. Maybe even better would be to use it in cooking! This beer would be amazing in braised or roasted meats, chili, BBQ, bread, and even soup. If used in the dish, I would love to see it paired with that dish at the same time